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Orchard of knowledge: Artist will insert Wikipedia’s catalog into DNA of apple trees

| | May 16, 2014

The GLP posts this article or excerpt as part of a daily curated selection of biotechnology-related news, opinion and analysis.

Last year, Joe Davis, the artist in residence at George Church’s genetics lab, at Harvard Medical School, received an unmarked package containing roots and leaves from a four-thousand-year-old strain of apple. The contents in the box represented the closest thing that Davis could find, after years of searching, to the forbidden fruit that grew in the Garden of Eden. He plans to use synthetic biology to insert a DNA-encoded version of Wikipedia into the apple and create a living, literal tree of knowledge.

The apple genome can be thought of as a seven-hundred-and-fifty-million-letter book, made of the four letters of DNA: a, t, c, and g. The process of inserting Wikipedia resembles taking a pen and writing in the margins and between the lines. All the original text is retained, and all the genes that make the apple apple-like will be spared, with the goal, Davis said, of ecological and biological friendliness: “I don’t want it to make any phenotypic change in the size, taste, texture, or health of the apple.”

Read the full, original story: Object of Interest: The Twice-Forbidden Fruit

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